May 21, 2015
Bio-based resins are evolving rapidly. As concern over conventional plastics gains momentum and sustainability becomes a larger focus for manufacturers, bio-resin development is surging. As a result, more renewable bio-composites are being pushed into the resin stream creating a growing opportunity for bioplastics packaging.
Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, and Nestle have been gradually introducing more environmentally friendly bioplastics into their product lines and, a new report from Persistence Market Research, indicates that the bioplastics packaging market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 36.8% from 2014 to 2020.
Advantages vs Costs
Bioplastics offer several advantages over petroleum-based plastics. Here are just a few:
- Energy efficient – 65% less energy required to produce
- Environmentally friendly – Generate 68% fewer greenhouse gases
- Safer – Remain non-toxic as they degrade
- Renewable – Made from biomass which is completely renewable
- Recyclable – Break down faster and with less energy
Despite the benefits that bioplastics offer over petrochemical based plastics, many smaller manufacturers have been slow to adopt them. This is because, historically, the desire to leverage those benefits and achieve their sustainability goals has been outweighed by higher costs.
However, the ability to compete on price is evolving relatively quickly. It is wise for companies, both large and small, to pay close attention to bio-based resins as emerging technologies are creating cost advantages.
Advances in Resin Options
Two, relatively recent additions to the bio-resin market are: Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)— both of which are providing exciting strategic opportunities for the bioplastics packaging market. Since these bio-resins resemble common petrochemical based plastics, such as PET (polyethylene terpthalate) and PS (polystyrene), they are a realistically viable alternatives that are well suited for packaging applications.
Innovation Close to Home
Plastic Suppliers Inc., a Columbus, Ohio-based manufacturer and distributor of bio- and petrochemical-based films, has invented a new process for producing bio-based film. Their patented process has led to the creation of an environmentally friendly plastic film called EarthFirst.
Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center (OBIC) Director, Dennis Hall, is excited about the innovation that is taking place at Plastic Suppliers. He feels that the EarthFirst product has all the necessary capabilities to meet market demands, and the next step is for brand owners to pull it through the supply chain. Hall stated “my goal is to carry this message forward and advance the use of bioplastics by working with companies where there is a strategic fit.”
Building Awareness, Creating Opportunity
Of course, consumer demand will continue to play a key role in how quickly this market grows. OBIC annually conducts a national market study to gauge consumer interest, knowledge, and awareness of bio-based products. Results indicate that consumers are aware that bio-based products exist; although, their knowledge of specific brands or products is shallow. However, they do believe that buying bio-based products is having a positive impact on the environment and exhibit a willingness to pay more for those products.
OBIC is dedicated to preparing consumers for a bio-based lifestyle through education and public outreach events. Hall has recently participated in several USDA, US Department of Energy, and private sector conferences focused on bioplastics, and more specifically packaging, to continue engaging the marketplace and promoting bio-based alternatives.
OBIC and PolymerOhio are working together to support and grow the Bioplastics industry in Ohio. Contact OBIC for more information about their services and how they can help your company achieve its sustainability goals.
PolymerOhio is dedicated to Accelerating Growth, Competitiveness and Innovation in Ohio’s Polymer Industry. We are a resource, connector, and collaboration builder that is committed to encouraging, expanding and supporting the polymer industry in Ohio. Let’s discuss your challenges and how PolymerOhio can help you overcome them. Contact us to get the conversation started!